Monday, 19 April 2010

Selling Your Handmade Books: Selling Policies

Before your buyers come asking questions, it's very helpful to have answers! Whether you sell online, out of your home, at a craft fair, boutique or gallery, creating a set of policies can help you determine who you are, not as a book artist but, as a business person. Most of the answers to these questions can be written down and reviewed occasionally.

Policies for your shop on Etsy
Most of the answers to the questions below should be available to your customers in your shop policies. 
  • What forms of payment do you accept? (Any advice on using that form of payment if they are not familiar with it?)
  • Do you accept any other forms of payment not listed?
  • Will you sell your items internationally? What countries will you/ can you not send your items to? (For example, Italy will not allow photo albums or leather goods to be shipped there from the U.S.)
  • Will you ever offer a refund? Under what circumstances will you offer a refund? Will you offer partial refund, full refund, refund on shipping, return shipping?
  • How do you/will you ship the purchased item? 
  • Do you use recycled packaging or new packaging?
  • Do you include an invoice?
  • What shipping service do you use?
  • What is the typical method of shipping?
  • How long does it usually take before you ship an item?
  • How long does it usually take for the item to arrive in your own country? Internationally?
  • Would you be willing to use a different shipping service?
  • What address will you use when shipping the item? The one on the etsy invoice or the paypal invoice (sometimes they are different).
  • Feedback: when will you leave it and would you prefer they contact you with concerns before leaving feedback?
  • Allergy issues: Will the item come from a smoke free/pet free studio or do you have a happy feline that occasionally curls up on your lap while you work?
  • Custom orders: Will you take custom orders? Do you charge an extra fee for custom orders/ how much? How long might a custom order take? 
Policies for selling at craft shows
  • If someone breaks/tears a page in a book while looking at will you react? 
  • Do you require them to pay for the item or hide it under the table to be fixed later or discount the book if the person refuses to pay for it? 
  • Will you have the same reaction if it were a child with chocolate fingers that touched one of your books while mom wasn't looking?
  • Do you have insurance for your items?
  • Do you have a sign for your policies or just let them know about your policy when something occurs?
  • If someone is a dollar short but really wants to buy one of your books will you still give it to him/her? What if they are 5 dollars short? 10 dollars short?
  • Do you offer refunds at the craft show? Under a certain time limit? or not at all? 
  • Someone wants to bargain with you to get a lower price. Will you lower your price? If so, how much?
Policies for selling at boutiques or art galleries

We'll cover more of this in about a month, but for now, art galleries and boutiques usually have their own policies as an establishment, therefore, when you create your policies for selling at Brick and Mortar stores/Galleries, always compare before agreeing to anything. You might have to budge on some things, but hopefully, having a set ideal will give you firm ground if any negotiations have to be made.
  • If the B&M wants to give a discount, will it come out of their portion of the commission or yours? 
  • If a customer loves your work and would purchase if the price were only slightly lower, would you be willing to go down 10%? If so, make sure you let the B &M or art gallery manager know this as it might gain you faster sales (less money but faster sales). They'll always try and sell it at the original price, but this might give them a buffer zone to negotiate with the customer.
  • Who is responsible for loss/theft/damage to your books? 
  • Does the store own insurance? 
  • Do you have insurance for your items? 
  • If the venue is not located near you, who pays for the shipping costs of the items? To give you an idea, most B&M's that are on commission expect you to pay for shipping costs. Some will pay for the return shipping if items aren't sold within an X amount of time. Most art galleries expect you to pay for shipping and return shipping. If they offer return shipping, get it in writing. Especially if it's a large quantity of items which would be costly on your part to pay. If the store is not on commission but is purchasing wholesale, then the customer usually pays for shipping just like any other purchase (unless you offer free shipping).
The last list of policies to have are for sales from your home/studio
  • Can anyone stop by your home to purchase one of your handmade things? Do they need to make an appointment? 
  • If they're friends/family will you offer them a discount? If so, how much?
  • What if they're short by $1, $5 or $10? What if they're short by $25?
  • What if they only have $50 and want to buy a $35 book and you don't happen to have $15 in change for them? 
  • What if they want a custom order? Do they go in the custom order queu or are they bumped up to the top because they're family/friends?
Knowing beforehand how to handle something is of great help in any situation. If a problem arrives, or a potential customer has questions, you can refer them to your shop policies. 

I've really enjoyed all the feedback I've received about Tuesday Posts on Selling your Handmade Books. It's encouraging, so please keep it up. Also, please leave comments and suggestions for others about your own policies. I'm sure there are some questions I haven't even thought about! 


B├╝chertiger said...

A great, and it seems to be quite comprehensive list. It is nice to have all these points together in one list.
Maybe one more thing to think about: What about recommendations to other bookbinders/artists. I found that on my one and only craft fair, people asked me a lot about book repair. I wished I could have recommended a bookbinder to do this job for them, because I don't feel up to repairing family bibles.
I imagine similar questions could come up. Hardly anyone can do anything book related, and it might be useful to have thought about what services you offer, and who to recommend if someone asks for a service you don't provide.

This can also be a real partnership, where you and another, complementary crafter recommend each other.

I cooperated with a framer for example at that fair. I had one of my prints in their booth. And in return I recommended them when someone bought a print from me.

Thank you so much for this series of posts, I always enjoy them! :-)

Pepeola said...

Wait... Italy doesn't allow books to be shipped here? Are you sure? I'm Italian and I've never heard about that, I've bought seversl things online that were shipped from US and everything was delivered. Ok, we have to wait even 3 or more weeks, but we know that.

Pauline Paulette said...

Thank you for sharing this list, it seems quite complete with all the essential information.

I like to include in my policies a few lines about gifts and gift packages (if they want me to make the package, or they just want the material, if it is possible to send it directly to the person who will receive the gift, if it's available a sort of gift certificate...)

PS: I didn't know about problems with delivering in Italy from abroad...

KarleighJae said...

Maybe it's just albums but I've heard bookbinders complain that their blank journals are considered photo albums and either end up "lost" in the mail or restricted by customs in Italy. You can see the whopping "do not send to Italy" list here:

That's all I really know about it. Maybe someone else has insight on this when it comes to sending books?